Technology & Innovation

The European Union has dedicated €4 million ($4.5m) for research on new designs for biogas-fuelled, small-scale cogeneration engines - in a bid to open up the heat and power sector for mainstream renewables. Named SmartCHP, the solution could have a market potential of up to €4billion, according to the lead research coordinator, BTG Biomass Technology Group.

Comparing fuel costs, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said hydrogen-based direct iron reduction for steel production could allow for substitution to green energy – if the hydrogen is generated from electrolysis. “Hydrogen could become an attractive option to indirectly electrify industrial high-temperature heat," analysts said, "either via direct combustion or blending with natural gas.”

General Electric has decided to close down the 750 MW Inland Empire Energy Center (IEEC) in California some 20 years before the end of its lifetime. The steam-cooled H-class turbines had taken hours to start and repeatedly suffered technical problems, which hampered a swift dispatch of the CCGT and ultimately rendered it uneconomical.

Feasible Inc., a Californian battery analytics platform company, has received a major cash injection from Chrysalix Venture Capital’s RoboValley Fund to help promote its newly-developed intelligence platform EchoStat. Based on real-time analytics, the system provides actionable insight to solve challenges related to battery design and manufacturing.

General Electric has developed three new grid analytic methods that combine domain expertise with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to tackle challenges in electric grid operations. The offer addresses storm readiness, network connectivity and inertia in a bid to enable more stable grid operations and security of power supply.

Norwegian energy giant Statkraft and flexible grid specialist Statera have entered a 15-year partnership to develop a 1 GW virtual power plant (VPP) in the UK. Consisting of flexible reciprocating gas and energy storage, the VPP will match demand with supply from various energy sources “within seconds.” Ultimately, the partnership is meant to bring Statkraft’s VPP capacity to 2 GW.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries of Japan is advancing the development of a floating power plant that will operate on regasified LNG, targeting utility customers in remote areas of Southeast Asia. The barge-based LNG-to-Power solution will be the first of its kind able to generate 100,000 kilowatts of electricity.

‘Ready-to-go’ power supply is on offer from Wärsilä’s Modular Block - a modularly configured, and expandable enclosure for Wärtsilä medium-speed 34SG gas engine generators. The pre-fabricated solution reduces on-site installation time from several months to a few weeks.

Ansaldo Energia and REP Holding have formed a joint venture to produce, modernise, repair and service high-power industrial gas and steam turbines in Russia. The product range includes three Ansaldo turbines in the range of 70 to 340 MW, power gen applications, as well as two steam turbines in the range of 40 to 350 MW.

Flywheels – fast-acting frequency response systems – combined with energy storage, are being installed at two sites in England and Ireland as part of a £3.5 million project. Stage 1, piloted by Schwungrad Energie Ltd, is seeing the construction of a flywheel demo plant for the Irish TSO EirGrid. The hybrid system will generate a peak power supply of 500kW and capable to store 10kWh of energy.

Industries which require high temperature heat are particularly hard to electrify, not to mention decarbonise. Still, hydrogen could soon become an attractive fuel in the steel industry, analysts at the International Energy Agency (IEA) find, while carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) could help decarbonizes cement, steel and chemical production.

Pennsylvania Power Company (PennPower), part of FirstEnergy Corp., is installing 120 new ‘TripSaver’ automated reclosing devices on its transmission lines across Crawford, Lawrence and Mercer counties in an effort to limit the frequency and duration of service interruptions. The device works like a circuit breaker and can also re-energize the power line within seconds.

With biogas becoming increasingly popular, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed novel polymer membrane material that can dramatically improve the efficiency of gas purification. Contaminants, such as CO2, are inherent in both natural gas and biogas to various degrees, so it needs to be purified before it can be burnt as fuel.

Siemens and Chronicle, an Alphabet company, have partnered to monitor the energy industry’s critical infrastructure and protect it from cyber threats. The offering will leverage Chronicle’s Backstory platform and Siemens’ strength in analytics and artificial intelligence to give customers operational insights on malware targeting industrial and power plants.

Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. has agreed to cooperate with the American private energy firm Midland Cogen Venture (MCV) on gas turbines, renewables and hybrid combined-cycle gas power and energy storage solutions. The aim is strengthen Doosan’s position in the U.S. market for gas turbine aftermarket services.

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News in Brief

Slow start of STT pipeline

Oct 18 – U.S. gas exports to Mexico have not picked up substantially despite the start of the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan (STT) pipeline. Exports are still below 6.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d), although there no current postings regarding maintenance on the Sistrangas pipeline that feeds from NET Mexico.

EIB defers ban on fossil projects

Oct 17 – Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB) has bowed to pressure from Germany and the European Commission and deferred its decision to ban loans to fossil-fuel projects until mid-November. Germany wants the bank to keep financing gas-fired power projects as it views the cleaner-burning fossil fuel as a vital backup for renewable energy sources.

Brexit will not impact UK gas supply

Oct 16 – Security of power and gas supply in the UK will not be jeopardized this winter by the country’s imminent departure from the European Union, even in the event of a hard Brexit, National Grid said. In its assessment, the TSO factored in a halt to flows via the Belgium and Dutch gas interconnectors “from EU exit day one”, but said ongoing deliveries from Norway, the UK Continental Shelf and storage will continue as usual.

Ferrybridge C gets demolished

Oct 15 – Four cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station have been taken down as the coal-fired power station will make way to a new, high-efficiency gas power station. Operator SSE shut down the 500 MW Ferrybridge C unit in March 2016 and now started to tear it down.

Global energy storage tops 10 GW by 2025

Oct 14 – The global market for grid-connected energy storage will grow by 6,900 MW, or 16.6% to reach over 10,500 MW by the end of 2025, according to Reportlinker.com. Germany will add over 267 MW energy storage installations over the next five to six years, while 330 MW will come from other European markets. These numbers are dwarfed by China, where up to 1,200 MW energy storage units could be connected to the grid by 2025.

Wärtsilä services EDL plant

Oct 11 – Energy Developments Ltd (EDL) of Australia has awarded Wärtsilä a service contract for gas engine-based baseload power plant at the McArthur River zinc mine in Northern Territory. The maintenance approach for the 53 MW onsite power plant is no longer pre-planned and scheduled but has been changed to condition-based and predictive maintenance, with an advisory contract.

EPH buys CCGT in Galway

Oct 10 – The Czech energy company EPH has received regulatory approval to purchase an 80% stake in the 400 MW Tynagh Energy combined-cycle gas power plant in Galway, Ireland. Mountainside Partners will continue to own the remaining stake in the CCGT, which operates based on a security-of-supply contract from the Irish TSO based on guaranteed power prices.

ITM gets £38m boost from Linde

Oct 9 – Sheffield-based ITM Power, maker of electrolysers for hydrogen production, has been boosted by a £38 million cash injection, as Linde acquired a 20% stake in ITM at 40 pence per share. Looking ahead, ITM said it is seeking to raise £14 million from new and existing institutional investors.

Drax to convert two power units

Oct 8 – Drax Group has received government approval to convert up to two coal-fired generating units at its power station in North Yorkshire to run on natural gas. With this ruling, the UK regulator overturned objections by ClientEarth, stressing some fossil power is vital for the UK to backup intermittent renewable power source.

Storage use tops 80% in key U.S. regions

Oct 7 – Gas storage utilization in the United States is rising in the autumn, with net injections topping 112 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in the first week of October. According to EIA figures, underground storages are at least 80% full in the East, Midwest, and South Central non-salt regions, allowing for seasonal withdrawals to help meet peak-day gas demand throughout the upcoming winter.

Maine, NY aspire to 100% clean energy

Oct 4 – Three U.S. states—Maine, New York, and Ohio—have updated their renewable portfolio standards (RPS), since May 2019. As a result, Maine and New York joined California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia in requiring 100% clean electricity by 2050.

TransAlta to built CHP in Alberta

Oct 3 – Canada-based Transalta and SemCAMS Midstream have agreed to develop, construct and operate a new cogeneration facility at the Kaybob South No. 3 sour gas processing plant in Alberta. To be built at a cost of some 105 million, the CHP will have an installed capacity of 40 MW. Start of commercial operation is targeted for late 2021.

GE’s 100th HA turbine sold in Greece

Oct 2 – Greek industrial firm Mytilineos has ordered a GE 9HA.02 gas turbine to be the heart of the 826 MW Agios Nikolaos combined-cycle gas power plant. This deal also marks the 100th unit of GE’s HA gas turbine sold. Construction of the CCGT is due to start before the end of the year.

ABB launches M4M analyzer

Oct 1 – Swiss technology firm ABB has launches its first Bluetooth-equipped network analyzers, called M4M. The system gathers data from distribution grids and connects them to a cloud-based control system, allowing users to react on energy consumption and on-site power generation trends.

Microsoft invests in wind power

Sept 30 – Microsoft and ENGIE have entered a long-term solar and wind energy power purchase agreement (PPA) in the United States. The deal will see Microsoft purchase a total of 230 MW from two ENGIE projects in Texas, bringing Microsoft’s renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW.

Gazprom tackles issue of ownerless gas grid

Sept 27 – Gazprom, the main supplier of pipeline gas to Europe, is trying to settle the issue of ownerless gas pipelines – a relic of the former Soviet Union. Abandoned gas transmission pipeline spanned 6,651 kilometers as of March 1, with the issue seen as “especially acute” in the North Caucasus region where half of this infrastructure is located. If no owner registers these facilities within three months, Gazprom will take over to ensure reliability and safety.

Investors flock to Myanmar

Sept 26 – Fitch Ratings has singled out Myanmar’s power sector as one of the largest beneficiaries of foreign direct investments (FDI) worldwide. Nearly $21.2 billion was poured into power generation and energy infrastructure projects thus far in 2019, which is 27% of total FDI under the Myanmar Investment Law.